Tuesday 13 June 2017

Abbasid Caliphate

The Abbasid Caliphate was the third Islamic Caliphate which was built and named after descendant of Muhammad's youngest uncle, Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib. They ruled as caliphs, for most of their period from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after assuming authority over the Muslim empire from the Umayyads in 750 CE.

Great Mosque of Samarra, Iraq

During Abbasid Revolution(749 - 751 CE), in early October 749 , Abu al-'Abbās as-Saffāh's(soon to be first Abbasid Caliph) rebel army entered Kufa, a major Muslim center in Southern Iraq, with priority to eliminate his Umayyad rival, caliph Marwan II. The latter was defeated in February 750 at a battle on the (Great) Zab river north of Baghdad, effectively ending the Umayyad caliphate, which had ruled since 661 AD. Marwan II fled back to Damascus, and was ultimately killed in Egypt that August.

Great Zab River

as-Saffāh established Kufa as the new capital of the caliphate, ending the dominance of Damascus in the Islamic political world. As-Saffāh's four-year reign was marked with efforts to consolidate and rebuild the caliphate. Jews, Nestorian Christians, and Persians were well represented in his government and in succeeding Abbasid administrations. He died of smallpox on June 10, 754

Abu al-'Abbas as-Saffah being declared Caliph

Education was also encouraged under the rule of Abbasid Caliphate, and the first paper mills, staffed by skilled Chinese prisoners captured at the Battle of Talas, were set up in Samarkand. Battle of Talas was a military engagement between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate along with their ally the Tibetan Empire against the Chinese Tang dynasty, governed at the time by Emperor Xuanzong. After a stalemate in several days of combat, the Tang lost the battle because the Karluks defected from the Tang side to the Abbasid side.

Battle of Talas

Al-Mansur succeeded his brother as-Saffah as the second Abbasid Caliph reigning 754 CE – 775 CE. One of the first change the Abbasids, under Al-Mansur, made was to move the empire's capital to Baghdad in Iraq. Baghdad was established on the Tigris River in 762.  In 756, Caliph Al-Mansur sent over 4,000 Arab mercenaries to assist the Chinese Tang dynasty in the An Shi Rebellion against An Lushan. When al-Mansur died on the hajj to Mecca in 775, the caliphate's treasury contained 600,000 dirhams and fourteen million dinars.

The Abbasid "Baghdad Gate" (8th. century) in Raqqa (Syria)

Al-Mahdi, son of al-Mansur succeded him as the 3rd Abbasid Caliph who reigned from 775 to his death in 785. In 775, a Byzantine envoy, Tarath, travelled to Baghdad to convey the congratulations of the Byzantine emperor to Al-Mahdi on his accession to the throne. Tarath was so pleased with the hospitality he received that he offered to put his engineering knowledge to use and build a mill that would generate annual profits, of 500,000 dirhams, equal to the cost of its construction. In 777 AD he put down the insurrection of Yusuf ibn Ibrahim in Khurasan.

Dirham of Al-Mahdi

Abu Muhammad Musa ibn Mahdi al-Hadi was the fourth Abbasid caliph who succeeded his father Al-Mahdi and ruled for one year from 785 until his death in 786 AD. He was very open to the people of his empire and allowed citizens to visit him in the palace at Baghdad to address him.

Harun al-Rashid was the fifth Abbasid Caliph. Younger brother of Al-Hadi, Al-Rashid ruled from 786 to 809, during the peak of the Islamic Golden Age. His time was marked by scientific, cultural, and religious prosperity. He established the legendary library Bayt al-Hikma ("House of Wisdom") in Baghdad in present-day Iraq, and during his rule Baghdad began to flourish as a center of knowledge, culture and trade. In 796, he moved his court and government to Raqqa in present-day Syria.

al-Rashid receiving a delegation sent by Charlemagne at his court. 1864 painting by Julius Köckert.

Rashid decided to focus on the rebellion of Rafi ibn al-Layth in Khorasan and died while there. While the Byzantine Empire was fighting Abbasid rule in Syria and Anatolia, military operations during this period were minimal, as the caliphate focused on internal matters, its governors exerting greater autonomy and using their increasing power to make their positions hereditary.

al-Amin, was the sixth Abbasid Caliph. He succeeded his father, Harun al-Rashid in 809 and ruled until he was deposed and killed in 813, during the civil war with his brother, al-Ma'mun. The civil war came to be known as the fourth Fitna. Caliph Harun al-Rashid, had named al-Amin as the first successor, but had also named al-Ma'mun as the second, with Khurasan(state) granted to him as an appanage. Later a third son, al-Qasim, had been designated as third successor. This war ended with a two-year siege of Baghdad and the eventual death of al-Amin in 813.

Depiction of Fourth Fitna

Al-Ma'mun became the seventh Abbasid caliph, who reigned from 813 until his death in 833. He ruled for 20 years of relative calm interspersed with a rebellion supported by the Byzantines in Azerbaijan by the Khurramites. He died on 9 August 833 near Tarsus. The city's major mosque (Tarsus Grand Mosque), contains a tomb reported to be his. He was not succeeded by his son, Al-Abbas ibn al-Ma'mun, but by his half-brother, al-Mu'tasim.

Tarsus Grand Mosque

al-Muʿtaṣim bi’llāh was the eighth Abbasid caliph, ruling from 833 to his death in 842. When al-Ma'mun died unexpectedly on campaign in August 833, al-Mu'tasim was well placed to succeed him, overriding the claims of his nephew. His rule marked the end of the strong caliphs. He strengthened his personal army with Turkish mercenaries and promptly restarted the war with the Byzantines. His military excursions were generally successful culminating with a resounding victory in the Sack of Amorium. His attempt at seizing Constantinople failed when his fleet was destroyed by a storm.

Siege of Amorium

al-Wāthiq Bi’llāh, became the ninth Abbasid caliph reigning from 842 until 847 AD. Al-Wathiq was the son of al-Mu'tasim by a Byzantine Greek slave, Qaratis. His reign was brief and unremarkable, being essentially a continuation of al-Mu'tasim's own, as the government continued to be led by the men al-Mu'tasim had raised to power.

al-Mutawakkil ʿAlā ’llāh was an Abbasid caliph(10th in line) who reigned in Samarra from 847 until 861. He succeeded his brother al-Wathiq. He continued to rely on Turkish statesmen and slave soldiers to put down rebellions and lead battles against foreign empires, notably the Byzantines. He was assassinated on on 11 December 861 by the Turkish guard with the support of his son, al-Muntasir which began the troubled period of civil strife known as "Anarchy at Samarra".

The spiral minaret in Samarra

al-Muntasir bi-llah (11th Abbasid Caliph) ruled in Baghdad from 861 to 862, during the "Anarchy at Samarra". Al-Muntasir's reign lasted less than half a year; it ended with his death of unknown causes on Sunday 7 June 862 at the age of 24 years. He was succedd by Al-Musta'in (12th Abbasid Caliph) who ruled from 862 to 866. Al-Musta'in was then succeeded by Al-Mu'tazz(13th Abbasid Caliph) in Baghdad and ruled from 866 to 869.

Dirham of al-Muntasir minted in Abbasid Samarra in 862

al-Muhtadī bi-'llāh (14th Abbasid Caliph) was chosen by Turks after the death of al-Mu'tazz. He ruled in Baghdad from 869 to 870. Al-Muhtadi turned out to be firm and virtuous compared to the last few Caliphs. If he had come earlier, he might have restored life to the Caliphate; however, by now the Turks held more power. His reign, however, lasted less than a year. After some disagreements and conspiracies, he was killed by the Turks in June 870. He was the last Caliph of "Anarchy at Samarra".

Dirham of al-Muhtadi, minted in Wasit in 869

No comments:

Post a Comment

Follow me on Blogarama